The state Oregon is known for being a leader in drug legalization and drug policy reform. They were the first to legalize the use marijuana and now they are one the first states to pass a bill that decriminalizes possession other narcotics and the punishment that comes along with it. The bill reclassifies possession several drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor, reduces the punishments, and expands access to drug treatment for people without prior felonies or convictions for drug possession. This is an effort to keep minor drug fenders out state prisons and into facilities where they can receive help for their addiction instead feeding into it. The bill is one step closer to fixing the problem at the source rather than continue the trend unnecessary mass incarceration and cycling people in and out the criminal justice system.
State Senator Jackie Winters (R), co-chair the Public Safety Committee and a supporter the bill commented on the matter: “We are trying to move policy towards treatment rather than prison beds. We can’t continue on the path building more prisons when ten the underlying root cause the crime is substance use.”
The abusing substances it is a mental health problem which has been duly noted and addressed by policy makers. Addiction is considered to be a disease so it must be treated as so. We can only hope that other states will follow the example Oregon and who have taken the first steps in stopping the cycle.